|Publication number||US7428922 B2|
|Application number||US 10/090,054|
|Publication date||Sep 30, 2008|
|Filing date||Mar 1, 2002|
|Priority date||Mar 1, 2002|
|Also published as||US20030166470|
|Publication number||090054, 10090054, US 7428922 B2, US 7428922B2, US-B2-7428922, US7428922 B2, US7428922B2|
|Inventors||Michael Fripp, Darren Barlow, Brandon Soileau|
|Original Assignee||Halliburton Energy Services|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (33), Non-Patent Citations (3), Referenced by (42), Classifications (17), Legal Events (5)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
The present invention relates to the use of magnetorheological fluids in downhole equipment to provide solid-state controls.
In the 1950s, it was discovered that fluids could be created whose resistance to flow were modifiable by subjecting them to a magnetic or electric field. This was disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 2,661,596, which is hereby incorporated by reference, where the inventor also disclosed its use in a hydraulic device. Those fluids that are responsive to an electrical field are known as electrorheological fluids while those responsive to magnetic fields are magnetorheological. Of these two, magnetorheological fluids have been the easier to work with, as their electrical counterparts are susceptible to performance-degrading contamination and require strong electric fields, which necessitate complicated, expensive high-voltage power supplies and complex control systems. In contrast, both permanent magnets and electromagnets are inexpensive and easy to produce, while the magnetorheological fluids are not as sensitive to contamination.
Magnetorheological (MR) fluids can be formed by combining a low viscosity fluid, such as a type of oil, with magnetic particles to form a slurry. The original patent used particles of iron on the order of 0.1 to 5 microns, with the particles comprising 20% or more by volume of the fluid. More recent work in MR fluids can be found, for instance, in U.S. Pat. No. 6,280,658. When a magnetic field passes through the fluid, the magnetic particles align with the field, limiting movement of the liquid due to the arrangement of the iron particles. As the field increases, the MR fluid becomes increasingly solid, but when the field is removed, the fluid resumes its liquid state again.
Devices that are used in the development and production of hydrocarbon wells have a number of constraints to which they must adhere. They must be capable of handling the harsh environment to which they are subjected, be controllable from the surface, and be sized to fit within the small area of a borehole, yet the fact that they can be operating thousands of feet underground makes their reliability a high priority. Some of the problems encountered in drilling and production of hydrocarbons are as follows:
1) It is imperative to reliably be able to trigger an event when desired, but not before. For instance, the firing of guns used to create openings through the casing into a formation must release enough energy to fracture through not only the casing, but also through damaged sections of the formation. Premature firing of the guns is both a safety issue (i.e., personnel can be injured) and an economic issue (equipment can be damaged, openings made into undesired strata must be repaired or bypassed).
2) Many pieces of equipment used downhole have valves that must be opened and closed. In other equipment, the relationship between two parts must be fixed at some points in time, yet moveable at others, such in a travel joint, which makes up for the movement of a drilling ship as it floats on the surface of the ocean. Traditional apparatus has relied various physical means to operate valves or release a part from a fixed relationship. These can include rotating the drill string to release a J-fastener, relying on pressure, either within the string or in the annulus, to rupture a valve or to apply the pressure necessary to move a part, and shear pins or similar devices. It is desirable to have more reliable means of operating this equipment more precisely. Additionally, the use of moving parts leads to rigorous designs that have redress costs and require rig time to trigger the valves. It would be desirable to utilize solid-state valves to lower costs, improve reliability, and decrease rig time for activation.
3) It would be desirable to provide a simple means for performing logical control steps, without the use of moving parts.
4) Devices such as packers traditionally use hard rubber parts to seal between the downhole tubing and the casing or borehole. The rubber requires high pressures to set, and the inflatable packers that have been used will not hold the large differential pressures of those using rubber packers. An alternative is desirable that would not require large amount of force to set, but that would handle large differential pressures.
Because of the variety of devices disclosed in the current application, specific examples of prior art devices are more fully discussed before the inventive alternative is disclosed.
Numerous devices that utilize magnetorheological fluids are disclosed for use in oil and gas drilling and/or production. With their ability to act as solid-state valves, MR fluids can serve in areas such as 1) fluid valving systems for locking and safety devices, 2) hydraulic logic systems, 3) position control and shock absorption, and 4) acting as a valve for other fluids.
In locking and safety devices, it is disclosed to use MR fluids as a hydraulic fluid that controls a piston designed to initiate an event. The presence of a magnetic field can prevent the piston from moving, acting as a safety lock for critical events. Examples are given for tubing conveyed perforation (TCP) guns, but are practical for many other locking applications.
In hydraulic logic systems, it is disclosed to utilize MR fluid valves that have a logic value of “0” or “1” depending on whether or not a magnetic field is present. Systems can be designed to control downhole equipment by logical responses to sensor input. Valves can be tied together to create more complex logic
It is further disclosed to control the position of one device relative to another device by MR systems. Movement of the devices relative to each other is tied to the movement of a piston through MR fluid; by blocking the flow of the MR fluid, the relative positions of the pieces are fixed. A magnetic field that is below that necessary to block flow can provide a time-delay or dampening effect.
In packers, it is disclosed to utilize an MR fluid in a packer, or other device to block the flow of other fluids. By solidifying the MR fluid, the seal can provide a strong barrier to the passage of other fluids, while its ability to have a fluid phase allows the MR fluid to conform to the walls of damaged wellbores. Little force is require to set the packer, yet it can hold large differential pressures.
Devices utilizing MR fluids will have one or more of the following advantages: they are generally simple designs, fit well into existing systems, have fewer moving parts, and can be designed to fail (if electrical connections are lost) in either a valve open or valve closed position. The MR fluid itself is relatively inexpensive, easily handled, non-toxic, and its viscosity can be varied by simply changing the magnetic field to which it is subjected. Magnetorheological fluid devices can offer simple, elegant solutions to a number of problems, as will be further discussed.
The novel features believed characteristic of the invention are set forth in the appended claims. The invention itself, however, as well as a preferred mode of use, further objects and advantages thereof, will best be understood by reference to the following detailed description of an illustrative embodiment when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein:
Embodiment of the disclosed system will now be discussed in further detail.
Overview of Valves Using Magnetorheological Fluid
It is well known that if one side of an O-shaped piece of iron is wrapped with coils of an insulated conductor, an electromagnet can be formed. When a direct current is run through the coils, the iron underneath the coils is temporarily magnetized, with the polarity depending on the direction of current. The O-shaped piece of iron acts in a manner analogous to an electrical circuit to conduct the magnetic field, or flux, around the magnetic circuit created, so that the entire piece of iron becomes an electromagnet. If, however, a section of the magnetic circuit is removed, the magnetic field cannot flow, just as in an electrical circuit.
It is also possible to design a valve in which a lack of current closes a valve, while a current opens the valve.
Building further on the use of MR fluids, the inventors of this application have identified a number of specific areas in downhole drilling and production in which magnetorheological fluid valves can be useful. These areas generally fall into four categories: fluid valves for locking and safety devices, hydraulic control circuits, position control, and blocking the flow of other fluids and will be discussed in these four general groups. Some applications do not fall easily into these groupings, but will be discussed where most appropriate.
Fluid Valves for Locking and Safety Devices
Locking and safety devices are devices that have a one-time operation, such that the system cannot be reestablished to its original condition. When dealing with the heavy equipment and high pressures inherent in oilfield work, safety becomes a very important issue, and fail-safe mechanisms are mandatory. Locking mechanisms are used to ensure that a desired action, such as detonation of a perforation gun, does not take place prematurely. Using solid-state magnetorheological valves as described above, safety devices can be locked in an immovable state until a magnetic field is removed using an electromagnet.
In a first application, we will look at a control system for a firing head in a tubing-conveyed perforation (TCP) gun that is operated using MR fluids. First, let us look closer at the problems in this area. Conventionally, a perforating gun is actuated through a firing head that is responsive either to mechanical forces, such as the impact provided by dropping a detonating bar through the tubing, or to fluid pressure, e.g., through hydraulic lines. Additionally, some hybrid systems exist. Such firing heads, where the piston is moved in response to hydraulic pressure, are believed to enhance the safety of the detonating system in that they are unlikely to detonate without a specific source of substantial fluid pressure, which would not be expected outside the wellbore.
To provide added safety, especially for a mechanically actuated firing head, detonation interruption devices are also used. These devices are typically attached between the firing head assembly and the perforating gun, and typically contain a eutectic alloy that melts at temperatures expected within a wellbore, but not at the surface, for example 135° F. In its solid form, the eutectic material prevents the detonation signal from reaching the perforating gun, preventing accidental detonation at the surface. When the device is downhole, the increased heat will melt the material and allow detonation. However, “normal” drilling conditions vary widely. Detonation interruption devices are very difficult to store in Saudi Arabia, for example, as surface temperatures can reach the material's melting point. In areas like Alaska, the opposite problem occurs, as downhole temperatures may only reach 70° F., preventing detonation when desired. These operations would typically rely on a pressure-operated firing head.
One example of a conventional pressure-operated firing head is seen in
Using an MR fluid controlled safety lock on the TCP gun gives a much safer application. The safety is provided by a permanent magnet that can prevent movement, and only the intentional act of canceling the magnetic field will allow the gun to fire.
An alternate embodiment of the firing head is seen in
In either of the MR embodiments above, it would be possible to add a time-delay feature to the firing of the guns by a simple means. Rather than entirely canceling the magnetic field in magnetic assembly 622, the field can be partially cancelled, so that the MR fluid in the gap is in a semi-solid state with a given flow rate. The chosen flow rate would determine the time necessary for the pressure ports 618 to open and fire the guns. Many other embodiments can also be designed to enable time delay.
The use of MR fluid in implementing a TCP gun is only one example in which a safety lock or time-delay feature can be implemented using an MR valve. A valve using MR fluid can be used in any tool that relied on a failure mechanism to allow movement, such as vent devices that rely on shear pins, setting packers that rely on brass lugs, valves that rely on rupture discs, secondary release mechanisms that rely on shear pins or the shear of threads, live well intervention tools that rely on collapsing springs or shear pins, sub-surface safety valves, bridge plugs, etc. Many others will occur to one of ordinary skill in the art.
Position control is defined in this context as a device that can repeatably have multiple positions that include restoring the device to its original position. To control the position of a part, the part is connected to a piston, which moves through a cylinder filled with MR fluid. Using a magnetic field to solidify the MR fluid in the cylinder prevents movement of both the piston and the part, while canceling the magnetic field allows movement. The speed of movement can also be controlled by the strength of the magnetic field. Two specific examples are a circulating valve and a travel joint.
A circulating valve can be used to direct the flow of fluids in well tubing to different destinations, for instance, the valve can originally be closed, so that fluids move down the tubing, later opened to allow fluids in the tubing to exit to the annulus, and finally closed again to halt downward circulation. There are many different means of implementing a circulating valve, including valves that are operated by a wireline tool, by annulus pressure, or by internal tubing pressure. One example of a prior art circulating value is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,048,611, which is briefly discussed here.
When circulation to the annulus is desired, a ball 880 is dropped into valve 810, which seats at a lower valve seat member 874, closing off the bore of the tubing and permitting pressure to rise. This rise in pressure is transmitted, through openings 842 (but not through openings 840, which are sealed off) into pressure area 862, where the pressure forces sliding member 818 to move in a downward direction after shearing the shear pins 822, opening the valve, as seen in
As a replacement for the prior art circulating valves, it is disclosed to use an MR-fluid controlled valve. To allow for a three-way choice, a three-way valve can be used; one exemplary three-way valve is shown in
Another use for magnetorheological fluid downhole is in a travel joint, shown as part of the drill string in
Prior art travel joints are discussed in co-pending application Ser. No. 09/452,047, filed Nov. 30, 1999 and titled “Hydraulically Metered Travel Joint”, which is hereby incorporated by reference. Many of these prior art applications have used shear pins to maintain the locked relationship of the two sections of tubing prior to their installation. If the shear pins are prematurely broken, the tubing will not properly mate with the packer; and the entire assembly must be pulled up so that the shear pins can be replaced. In other cases, the release of the shear pins may require an excess of pressure, increasing the possibility that adjacent structures can be damaged when they release, especially in a deviated borehole.
In an embodiment of the present invention, shown in
In this application, use of MR fluids allows the two joints to be locked to each other in a variety of positions. Shear pins are unnecessary, so the possibility of premature breakage or the use of excessive force to shear the pins is avoided.
Hydraulic Logic Control Circuits
As seen in the general example above, if MR fluid is used as a hydraulic fluid, a magnet can serve to open or close the valve. An array of magnets and/or electromagnets can also be used to control the MR fluid to create digital hydraulic control circuits. The magnets would allow different hydraulic control systems to communicate with common high-pressure lines and low-pressure lines, while at the same time allowing them to be isolated from the pressure lines at other times.
Of course, with a system of control valves such as is shown, there is no reason why more complicated logic cannot be applied to control the equipment. For example, shown in
In this exemplary valve, a chamber is divided into separate chambers 1308 and 1310 by floating piston 1316, which is moveable between stops 1318 and 1319. Both of chambers 1308 and 1310 contain MR fluid and are connected to respective high-pressure lines 1308HP and 1310HP and to respective low-pressure lines 1308LP and 1310LP through respective MR valves 1314. A logical “1” is shown in either chamber by opening the valve on the high pressure side and closing the valve on the low pressure side. Conversely, a logical “0” is shown in either chamber by closing the valve on the high-pressure side and opening the valve on the low-pressure side. An output value is taken at line 1320. It can be seen that if either of chambers 1308 or 1310 have a “1” value while the other has a “0” value, piston 1316 will be moved to one side, opening output 1320 to reflect the high pressure from whichever chamber has a value of 1. If both chambers 1308 and 1310 are “1” or both chambers are “0”, the piston will remain centered, blocking a high-pressure output on line 1320.
One of ordinary skill can design other logical arrangements to reflect other logical values, such as inclusive “OR”, “AND”, and “NOT”. Using these logical relations, downhole equipment can be “programmed” to respond in a given manner to known input. In turn, this can mean faster response time to changing conditions, as the equipment can receive input from downhole sensors and perform a programmed response, rather than waiting for control signals from the surface.
Packers and Plugs
Conventional packers generally use rubber as the sealing element. A toroidal rubber element surrounds the drill string as it is being fed into the borehole. Once the packer assembly is at the desired position, the rubber packer element is compressed to force it to bulge against the casing wall, providing a seal. The typical rubber packer element requires a high force in order to be able to set it. Alternatives to rubber packer elements, such as inflatable packers, typically will not hold against a large differential pressure in the borehole, and are less useful. It would be desirable to find a packer element that did not need a high force to set it, yet could withstand a large differential pressure. It would additionally be desirable if such a packer element could provide a seal even when the borehole is damaged or deformed.
In the innovative embodiment disclosed herein, the rubber packer elements are replaced with a compliant toroidal balloon filled with magnetorheological fluid. The purpose of the balloon is to contain the MR fluid while the magnetic field is not activated, as the balloon does not contribute to the holding force of the packer element. Once in the hole, a magnetic field is activated and the MR fluid instantly solidifies and forms a strong seal in the annulus. The result is a packer that requires a low setting force yet can hold a high differential pressure.
An exemplary embodiment of a packer using MR fluid is shown in
The magnetic assembly 1420 is located in the wall of the tool string containing the packer. Preferably, the packer element 1416 is split into two sections in order to better utilize the magnetic field. During run in of the assembly, the magnetic field would not be active. Once the tools are in position, the packers are mechanically compressed so that they bulge into the wall of the casing, as shown in
The pressure differential that the MR fluid can support is a function of the gap between the packer and the casing that the fluid fills and the length of the MR packer. The differential pressure that the MR fluid can hold, according to Engineering Note, Lord Materials Division, is
where τy is the shear strength of the activated MR fluid, which is 8.7 psi, L is the length of the packer element, and g is the gap between each side of the packer and the casing. If we assume that g is 0.25 inch and the length of the packer is 48 inches, the packer could support a 5,000 psi pressure differential. Note that the MR fluid-based packer can support a pressure differential in either direction.
Some of the advantages of using MR fluid in packer elements include:
Although this example has been given in terms of a packer, the same idea could be adapted for use as a plug, to block the flow of fluids within a tube. A plug can be formed of a balloon-like structure containing MR fluid, capable of being deformed in order to seal the tube. During transit in the tube, no magnetic field is produced and the plug remains fluid. At the desired location, however, the balloon structure is deformed to contact the walls of the tubing and the magnetic field is turned on, solidifying the fluid into a plug blocking the tube.
A number of exemplary devices for use in the drilling and production of oil and gas have been demonstrated. However, their use should not be construed as limited to the examples given. Many variations of and modifications to these examples are possible. Additionally, MR valves can be combined with other innovative designs to enhance downhole operations. For example, if the valves are made of magnets, with electromagnets to allow changes in position, batteries can be used to power the valves, relieving the need for electrical connections. Instructions to the valves can be sent by means such as acoustic telemetry, which is discussed in co-pending application Ser. No. 10/059,782, filed Jan. 30, 2002. This can give maximum control to the operator, without sacrificing flexibility.
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|U.S. Classification||166/66.5, 251/129.06|
|International Classification||F15B20/00, E21B21/10, E21B43/1185, F15B21/06, E21B34/06|
|Cooperative Classification||F15B20/002, E21B34/06, E21B43/1185, F15B21/065, E21B21/10|
|European Classification||F15B21/06B, E21B43/1185, E21B21/10, E21B34/06, F15B20/00C|
|Mar 1, 2002||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: HALLIBURTON ENERGY SERVICES, INC., TEXAS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:FRIPP, MICHAEL;SOILEAU, BRANDON;REEL/FRAME:012678/0239
Effective date: 20020228
|Jun 19, 2002||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: HALLIBURTON ENERGY SERVICES, INC., TEXAS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:BARLOW, DARREN;REEL/FRAME:013044/0556
Effective date: 20020514
|May 14, 2012||REMI||Maintenance fee reminder mailed|
|Sep 30, 2012||LAPS||Lapse for failure to pay maintenance fees|
|Nov 20, 2012||FP||Expired due to failure to pay maintenance fee|
Effective date: 20120930